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Vaginal Dryness: Causes and Moisturizing Treatments

Normally, the walls of the vagina stay lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. The hormone estrogen helps maintain that fluid and keeps the lining of your vagina healthy, thick, and elastic.

A drop in estrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available. It can happen at any age from a number of different causes.

It may seem like a minor irritation. But the lack of vaginal moisture can have a huge impact on your sex life. Fortunately, several treatments are available to relieve vaginal dryness.


Vaginal dryness is common symptom of menopause — and close to one out of every three women deals with it while going through “the change.” It becomes even more common afterward. It also makes the vagina thinner and less elastic. This is called vaginal atrophy.

Estrogen levels can also drop because of:

Other causes of vaginal dryness include:

No matter what the cause, vaginal dryness can be extremely uncomfortable. It can lead to itching, burning, and painful intercourse.


Any burning, itching, or discomfort in the area is worth a call to your doctor or gynecologist. They’ll ask about your past health and find out how long you’ve had symptoms and what seems to make them worse or better.

Your doctor will do a pelvic exam, checking your vagina for any thinning or redness. The exam will help rule out other possible causes for your discomfort, including a vaginal or urinary tract infection. The doctor may also remove cells from your vaginal wall or cervix for a Pap test.


The most common treatment for vaginal dryness due to low estrogen levels is topical estrogen therapy. These replace some of the hormone your body is no longer making. That helps relieve vaginal symptoms, but it doesn’t put as much estrogen in your bloodstream as the hormone therapy you take in pills.

Most women use one of three types of vaginal estrogen:

  • Ring (Estring): You or your doctor inserts this soft, flexible ring into your vagina where it releases a steady stream of estrogen directly to the tissues. The ring is replaced every 3 months.
  • Tablet (Vagifem): You use a disposable applicator to put a tablet into your vagina once a day for the first two weeks of treatment. Then you do it twice a week until you no longer need it.
  • Cream (Estrace, Premarin): You use an applicator to get the cream into your vagina. You’ll typically apply the cream daily for 1 to 2 weeks, then cut back to one to three times a week as directed by your doctor.

Any estrogen product can have side effects, such as vaginal bleeding and breast pain. Topical estrogen may not be recommended when you:

  • Have breast cancer, especially if you’re taking an aromatase inhibitor
  • Have a history of endometrial cancer
  • Have vaginal bleeding but don’t know why
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

There isn’t much research on the long-term use of topical estrogen, but doctors believe it’s safe.

Other Products

You can buy a vaginal moisturizer like glycerin-min oil-polycarbophil (Replens) at your local drugstore or supermarket.

A drug taken orally An oral drug taken once a day, ospemifeme (Osphena), makes vaginal tissue thicker and less fragile, resulting in less pain for women during sex. The FDA warns that Osphena can thicken the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and raise the risk of stroke and blood clots.

Take your time before having sex to make sure that you’re fully relaxed and aroused. Apply a water-based lubricant (Astroglide, K-Y) to help enjoy intercourse more.

Avoid using douches, bubble baths, scented soaps, and lotions around the sensitive vaginal area. These products can worsen dryness.

Vaginal Itching, Burning, and Irritation


Itching or irritation anywhere on the body can cause discomfort. But when it occurs in an area as sensitive as the vagina and vulva (the labia, clitoris, and vaginal opening), it can be especially uncomfortable. Most genital itching and irritation isn’t a major concern. But because they can be symptoms of an infection, it’s always a good idea to call your health care provider.

What causes vaginal itching, burning, and irritation?

There are several common causes of vaginal itching, burning, and irritation, including:

  • Bacterial vaginosis. It’s normal to have a healthy mix of bacteria in the vagina. But the wrong bacteria growing there can lead to an infection. Besides itching, other symptoms that come with bacterial vaginosis are inflammation, burning, discharge, and a fishy-smelling odor.
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STDs).Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea and other organisms can cause vaginal/vulvar itching and irritation and other symptoms.
  • Yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis). About three out of every four women will develop a yeast infection at some point in their lives. Yeast infections occur when the yeast, candida, grow excessively in the vagina and vulva. Pregnancy, intercourse, antibiotics, and a weakened immune system can all make women more likely to get a yeast infection. In addition to itching and irritation, a yeast infection will produce a thick, white, cheesy discharge.
  • Menopause. The drop in estrogen production that occurs at the end of a woman’s reproductive years can cause the vaginal walls to thin and dry out. This can lead to itching and irritation. Thinning of the vaginal walls is also a problem in some women who breastfeed.
  • Chemical irritants. A number of chemical substances, including creams, douches, condoms, contraceptive foams, laundry detergents, soaps, scented toilet paper, and fabric softeners can irritate the vagina and vulva.
  • Lichen sclerosis . This is a rare condition that causes thin white patches to form on the skin, especially around the vulva. The patches can permanently scar the vaginal area. Postmenopausal women are most likely to develop this condition.


How are vaginal itching, burning, and irritation treated?

Vaginal irritation will often get better on its own. However, if the irritation continues, is severe, or comes back after treatment, call for an appointment with your doctor. The doctor can do a pelvic exam. The doctor will probably also take a sample of the discharge to find the source of the problem.

How vaginal discomfort is treated depends on what condition is causing the problem:

  • Vaginosis and STDs are treated with antibiotics/antiparasitics.
  • Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications. They are inserted into the vagina in the form of creams, ointments, or suppositories, or they are taken orally. You can buy these medications over the counter in different doses — one-day, three-day, seven-day. However, if you’ve never been diagnosed with a yeast infection, see your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.
  • Menopause-related itching may be treated with estrogen cream, tablets, or a vaginal moisturizer.
  • Other types of itching and irritation respond to steroid creams or lotions, which reduce inflammation. A prescription-strength steroid cream can relieve the irritation of lichen sclerosis.

In young girls, it’s important to report any itching, burning, or irritation to a health care provider, because these symptoms can be signs of sexual abuse.

Are there home remedies for vaginal itching, burning, and irritation?

Here are a few tips for preventing and treating vaginal irritation at home:

  • Avoid scented pads or toilet paper, creams, bubble bath, feminine sprays, and douches.
  • Use water and a plain, unscented soap to regularly clean your external genital area. But don’t wash more than once a day. Doing so can increase dryness.
  • Always wipe from front to back after having a bowel movement.
  • Wear cotton panties (no synthetic fabrics), and change your underwear every day.
  • Do not douche.
  • Change the diapers of infant girls regularly.
  • Use condoms during sexual intercourse to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
  • If you are experiencing vaginal dryness, use a vaginal moisturizer. Apply a water-based lubricant (K-Y, Astroglide) before having sex.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse until your symptoms improve.
  • Don’t scratch — you can further irritate the area.


Vagifem Vaginal: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing

See also Warning section.

Nausea/vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, breast tenderness, headache, or weight changes may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (such as depression, memory loss), breast lumps, unusual vaginal bleeding (such as spotting, breakthrough bleeding, prolonged/recurrent bleeding), increased or new vaginal irritation/itching/odor/discharge, severe stomach/abdominal pain, persistent nausea/vomiting, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, swelling hands/ankles/feet, increased thirst/urination.

This medication may rarely cause serious problems from blood clots (such as heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism). Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusual sweating, sudden/severe headache, weakness on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, sudden vision changes (such as partial/complete blindness), pain/redness/swelling of legs, tingling/weakness/numbness in the arms/legs, trouble breathing, coughing up blood, sudden dizziness/fainting.

A very serious allergic reaction to this product is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US –

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

5 Things That Can Cause Vaginal Dryness & Painful Sex

  • Changes in hormones. One of the most common causes of vaginal dryness is a decrease in estrogen levels during menopause or perimenopause, after childbirth, or during breastfeeding, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to the pelvis can also lead to low estrogen and a decrease in vaginal lubrication. “The vagina depends on estrogen for health,” says Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital and San Diego Sexual Medicine in California.
  • Medications. Allergy and cold medications containing antihistamines as well as asthma medications can have a drying effect inside the body and cause reduced vaginal lubrication, according to Dr. Goldstein.
  • Insufficient arousal. In some cases, vaginal dryness may be caused by a low libido or sexual problems with a partner. “If a partner has poor performance and early ejaculation, it can contribute to vaginal dryness,” Goldstein says.
  • Irritants. The chemicals in soaps, hygiene products, dyes, and perfumes may cause problems. “Many women have allergies to detergents and soaps,” Goldstein says. “There can be irritants on things like underwear or towels.” Other allergens can actually include lubricants and objects that may be placed in the vagina, he adds.
  • Anxiety. Psychological and emotional factors like stress and anxiety can also interfere with sexual desire and lead to vaginal dryness when normal vaginal lubrication does not occur. “When a woman is anxious, there is insufficient blood flow,” Goldstein says, “so she will have dryness.” 

How to Prevent and Treat Vaginal Dryness

Treatment for vaginal dryness depends on the cause. Women who experience problems with vaginal lubrication because of hormonal changes can often benefit from estrogen therapy, according to ACOG.

In some cases, doctors recommend localized treatments like vaginal estrogen inserts. For other women, especially those who have symptoms such as hot flashes in addition to vaginal dryness, an oral medication or a skin patch that releases estrogen throughout the body is an option, according to ACOG. And, in some cases, both approaches can be used together to effectively treat vaginal dryness. “Local estrogen hormone treatments that are inserted into the vagina in the form of a ring, pellet, or cream can complement systemic medications that raise systemic levels of estrogen,” Goldstein says.

In addition to estrogen-based therapies, other approaches that may bring relief, especially from painful sex, include:

  • Lubricants. “There are a plethora of lubricants that can help vaginal dryness,” Goldstein says. They include silicone-based, oil-based, and water-based products, according to ACOG. Lubricants are usually used to make sex less uncomfortable rather than for long-term vaginal lubrication.
  • Moisturizers. Over-the-counter vaginal moisturizers can be an effective way to minimize vaginal dryness over several days with one application. Goldstein explains that “moisturizing agents help introduce water into the tissue of the vagina.”

Vaginal dryness is a common and frustrating condition, but there are ways to alleviate the discomfort. If a lack of lubrication is causing painful sex, be sure to talk to your doctor about all possible treatments.

— Additional reporting by Madeline Vann, MPH

Experiencing Vaginal Dryness? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Vaginal dryness can cause irritation, burning, and pain with intercourse. It’s common after menopause, and it also can happen in the years leading up to menopause. Often, my patients notice symptoms when they haven’t been sexually active for a long time. Then they are intimate with a partner and find that sex is painful.

Here’s how I talk with my patients about vaginal dryness.

The cause is often low hormone levels related to menopause.

After and around the time of menopause, your body makes less estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that helps maintain the vagina’s lubrication, elasticity, and thickness. Low levels of estrogen can cause thinning, drying, and inflammation of vaginal walls. This is called vaginal atrophy.

But there are other causes too.

Low estrogen and vaginal dryness can happen at other times. Estrogen levels can fall after childbirth, with breastfeeding, during cancer treatment, or with anti-estrogen drugs.

Then there are non-hormonal factors. Cold and allergy medications and some antidepressants can dry out vaginal tissue. Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune condition that can cause a dry mouth and eyes, also can cause vaginal dryness.

There may be symptoms besides vaginal irritation or painful sex.

Dryness isn’t always just inside the vaginal canal. Less estrogen means less natural vaginal moisture. This can dry and irritate the vulva, the external female genital area. Women with vulvar dryness often notice
irritation when they’re putting on their underwear.

Some women also have increased urinary frequency or repeated urinary tract infections (UTIs) along with vaginal dryness. When this group of symptoms happens during menopause, ob-gyns call it genitourinary syndrome of menopause.

Moisturizers and lubricants often help.

For vaginal dryness by itself, I recommend trying over-the-counter moisturizers and lubricants.

  • Vaginal moisturizers add moisture around and inside the vagina. There are two types. Internal moisturizers are inserted into the vagina, where they help build up vaginal tissue. External moisturizers are made for the vulva.

  • Lubricants decrease discomfort during intercourse. Sexually active women should use lubricants in addition to a vaginal moisturizer. I prefer water-based lubricants, though they don’t last as long as silicone-based products. Skip oil-based lubricants. They can cause irritation and make condoms less effective.

See your ob-gyn if irritation and pain during sex don’t improve after 2 months of use, or if you have other symptoms.

Hormonal treatments also may be an option.

I often talk with patients about hormonal treatments when vaginal dryness comes along with urinary symptoms or menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes.

  • Estrogen creams and tablets are inserted a few times a week into the vagina. Creams must be measured and can get messy. Tablets are a good alternative.

  • Vaginal rings are placed in the vagina by the patient. They release a low dose of estrogen over 90 days.

These treatments deliver less estrogen than typical hormone therapy and have fewer risks. Talk with your ob-gyn about the pros and cons of different hormonal options.

Published: October 2020

Last reviewed: October 2020

Copyright 2021 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.

This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.

Why is my vagina dry? Vaginal dryness causes, diagnosis and treatment

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Top things to know about vaginal dryness:

  • Vaginal dryness can have physical or psychological causes

  • Vaginal lubrication is often closely tied to levels of the hormone estrogen, which changes at various life stages

  • Medications (including hormonal birth control) may cause vaginal dryness

  • You can have a happy and healthy sex life even if you don’t produce much natural vaginal lubrication

Vaginal dryness is common but treatable, and can happen at any age. Symptoms may include a burning sensation, vaginal discomfort or itching, abnormal vaginal discharge, or pain during sex or masturbation.

There can be a number of reasons for vaginal dryness, both psychological and physiological. Whether you’re drier than you would like to be during sexual activity, or are experiencing more general discomfort due to vaginal dryness, here are some of the possible causes—and solutions:

Download Clue to track your sex drive and sexual activity.


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Why is my vagina dry? Common causes of vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness and estrogen levels

The hormone estrogen helps to keep the vagina moist and to maintain the thickness of the vaginal lining. Atrophic vaginitis (vulvovaginal atrophy) is a common condition that can occur when the ovaries produce a decreased amount of estrogen, which includes the prominent symptom of vaginal dryness (1).

Your body produces less estrogen:

  • At the time of menopause—then it is classified as genitourinary syndrome of menopause

  • After having a baby, particularly if breastfeeding

  • Medications which interfere with reproductive hormone regulation, such as those which treat breast cancer or certain gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonists.

  • Removal of the ovaries, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy of the pelvis (1-5)

Vaginal lubrication and sex

If you’re noticing dryness during vaginal sex, this could be for a number of reasons. Maybe what your partner is doing just doesn’t turn you on. If you feel turned on but are still dry, your body might simply need time to catch up with your brain. If you’re noticing vaginal dryness along with a lack of sexual desire, you may be experiencing low libido, which can be caused by a number of factors including medication and health conditions. Or you just might not be all that into your partner or the acts you are performing together.

Your sexual desire is influenced by some of the same hormones that fluctuate with your cycle, like estrogen and progesterone.

You may find your desire tends to increase in the days leading up to ovulation and decrease after ovulation is over (6,7). Sex drive may be lower when more progesterone is produced during the luteal phase (the days after ovulation and leading up to menstruation) (7). Exactly how reproductive hormones influence desire and preference isn’t the same for everyone; some people report a higher sex drive as part of their premenstrual experience, while other present with decreased libido (8). Tracking desire throughout your cycle can help you discover what’s true for you.

Vaginal dryness treatments

  • If you’re experiencing dryness since being on medication or a form of hormonal birth control: talk to your healthcare provider about trying another one that’s a better fit for your body.

  • If you suspect your dryness could be caused by low estrogen levels, there are several treatment options: vaginal moisturizers or lubricants, local vaginal estrogen cream or tablet,  systemic estrogen (and progesterone) therapy, or sometimes selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) (3). See your healthcare provider to find out what’s the best option for you.

  • If what your sexual partner is doing doesn’t work for you: you could try discussing your sexual likes and dislikes—you may even find that just talking about it increases your arousal. If you lack desire for your partner, it’s up to you what you do from there, whether you want to re-evaluate your relationship or investigate any health issues that might be messing with your libido.

  • If you feel turned on but you’re not wet: spending more time on foreplay can be one way to increase your natural lubrication. Another option is to use personal lubricant (lube) during sexual activity or masturbation.

Use a personal lubricant for “simply better sex”

In a 2013 study, lubricant use was associated with higher ratings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction in both solo masturbation and partnered sexual activities. More than 9 out of 10 women in the study agreed or strongly agreed that lube made sex feel “more comfortable,” “more pleasurable,” and simply “better” (9).

Lubricants made with water or silicone can be used with latex condoms and diaphragms. Oil-based products, such as petroleum jelly, baby oil, mineral oil, or vegetable oils are not healthy to use internally, and are likely to damage latex condoms and/or diaphragms and make them less effective at preventing pregnancy or STIs.

A study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who had used petroleum jelly as lube in the past month were more than twice as likely as non-users to have bacterial vaginosis (10). Hand or body lotions are not recommended either, as they can be irritating to vaginal tissues.

If you prefer to use something natural, avoid using food products like olive oil or coconut oil as this can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Instead, try an organic lubricant or a water-based lube without additives.

Other possible causes of vaginal dryness

Aside from sexual arousal and estrogen levels, there are additional factors that can affect vaginal lubrication:

  • Vaginal dryness can be a side effect of some medications and contraceptives. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if the source of your vaginal dryness could actually be your medication or contraception (11).  

  • Cigarette smokers have been shown to have an increased risk of an earlier menopause transition as compared to non-smokers. This means that atrophic vaginitis symptoms may appear at a younger age in this population (2).

  • Sjögren’s syndrome could be another cause of possible vaginal (and other symptoms of dryness). This is an autoimmune disease where the body’s glands aren’t able to produce enough moisture (12).

If you’ve checked out everything else and still don’t find the culprit, you might have an allergy to chemicals in soap, detergent, lubricant or hygiene products—these can also cause vaginal dryness or irritation. Try switching to natural products and wash with unperfumed soap or just water, and see if your symptoms improve.

Your vagina is self-cleaning, so there is no need to use any internal washes (douches) or vaginal deodorants—in fact, they can be harmful. Research has linked the practice of douching with increased risk of bacterial and yeast infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, increased transmission of STIs, upper genital tract infections, endometritis (inflammation of the lining of the uterus), and other adverse health outcomes (13,14).

Use Clue to track vaginal fluid throughout your cycle.

Article was originally published on Oct. 13, 2017.

What You Need to Know About Causes and Treatments

No one likes to talk about it, but almost every woman has experienced it.

A dry vagina is not only uncomfortable, but it can lead to painful sex, itching and other problems.

“Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of several conditions,” said Dr. Chappell. “This is one reason why we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us so we can get to the cause and offer effective treatment.”

“Some women think that a dry vagina is just something they have to put up with, but nothing can be further from the truth. Vaginal dryness can affect the quality of your life and even cause painful intercourse.”

What Causes Vaginal Dryness?

The main cause of vaginal dryness is a decline in estrogen, the hormone that helps keep your vaginal tissue healthy.

While menopause is the primary reason for a decrease in estrogen levels, other causes can be:

  • Giving birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Immune disorders, including Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects your glands that make saliva and tears
  • Smoking
  • Depression 
  • Severe stress
  • Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Perimenopause
  • Douching
  • Allergy or cold medications
  • Certain soaps or even certain kinds of laundry detergent

In some cases, diabetes may even contribute to vaginal dryness.

How Do You Treat a Dry Vagina?

When dryness is due to lack of lubrication, you can buy over-the-counter treatments like lubricants and moisturizers. Often, these therapies can alleviate most of the discomfort during sex. However, these methods only provide short-term relief.  

Other strategies to address vaginal dryness include avoiding irritants like douching, or using any perfumed soaps or lotions in the vaginal area.  

Estrogen therapy is particularly successful in treating vaginal dryness.

Estrogen Therapy for a Dry Vagina

Estrogen therapy includes hormone-containing vaginal creams, rings and tablets.

These treatments release estrogen directly into the tissue to restore the elasticity to the lining. Depending upon your individual situation, systemic estrogen therapy – where estrogen is released into the bloodstream through pills or patches – may be a good option. 

It’s important to note that if you have your uterus, you should also take progestin when you are undergoing systemic estrogen therapy. This can help reduce your risk of getting uterine cancer. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)

The risks and benefits are slightly different between local estrogen treatment and systemic estrogen treatment. We would be happy to help you figure out which option best addresses your needs.

Vaginal Dryness and Menopause

While almost half of postmenopausal women have trouble with a dry vagina, an estimated 90 percent don’t seek help for their symptoms.

This not only leads to further irritation, but it also contributes to painful sex. This group of symptoms is referred to as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). 

Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • More frequent vaginal infections
  • Vaginal burning
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Frequent urination

GSM can dramatically reduce the quality of life for affected women. While other hallmarks of menopause such as hot flashes tend to decrease in severity over time, but vaginal dryness does not. (Harvard Medical School).

A Dry Vagina Can Cause Painful Sex

While sex should not cause pain or discomfort, thousands of American women have experienced painful intercourse.

In fact, 3 out of 4 women have experienced painful sex at some point. The medical term for painful intercourse is dyspareunia. 

Sex does not have to be painful, and at Chapel Hill OBGYN, we’re dedicated to helping you with any sexual condition.

Do not ever feel “embarrassed” to talk to us about your problems. Your sexual health is simply too important. 

See Why We’re the Provider of Choice in Chapel Hill and Durham

We’ve helped women of all ages and from all walks of life experience better gynecological health, whether they are here for their first Pap smear, their prenatal appointments or for help with menopausal symptoms.

Please contact us to schedule an appointment. Usually we can schedule it for that same week. 


For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.




American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Harvard Medical School. Don’t ignore vaginal dryness and pain

U.S. Library of Medicine. “Vaginal Dryness.”

90,000 Why is it so hard to give up a second piece of cake? Scientists have found “neurons of abstinence”

Photo author, Getty Images

Eating delicious food reduces the activity of brain cells that control hunger and thirst, scientists have found. Simply put, the more you eat, the more you want. This is why it can be so difficult to skip a second piece of cake for tea, even after a hearty meal, scientists suggest.

The journal Nature reports on the results of a study by a team of scientists led by Scott Sternson of the Janelia Research Center in Ashburn, Virginia.In experiments on mice, they identified the area of ​​the brain where the cells (neurons) that are responsible for the consumption of food and water are located.

When the neural network in this area is activated, the feeling of hunger and thirst is suppressed. And vice versa: blocking it leads to the fact that the mice continue to eat and drink, even when they are fully fed and watered.

The researchers offered the mice different drinks while simultaneously observing the activity of the “continence neurons”. There was a slight decrease in activity when the mice drank water or bitter drinks, and much more if the mice received tasty liquids, for example, with a vanilla flavor.

As scientists suggest, the neural network is designed in such a way that a good taste makes the brain want more.

How to reprogram the brain

In 2019, Science reported the results of research on a similar topic. Its authors, who also worked with experimental mice, found that the brain can be programmed to overeat: the consumption of food high in fat and sugar leads to this.

Photo Credit, Science Photo Library

A team of scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by neuroscientist Garrett Stuber, studied the changes that occur in the brain with obesity.

They compared the behavior of neural networks in the brains of live and overweight mice immediately after a meal: as such, the animals were given calorie-rich sugary water.

The brains of non-obese mice reacted to sugar by increasing the activity of neural networks: the cells seemed to give a signal “enough” and forbade the continuation of the banquet.

However, as the mice received more sugar, they began to gain extra weight – and the neural networks in their brains became less and less active, the study said.By week 12 of the dietary change, cells were about 80% less responsive to the sugary drink.

However, this study does not specify exactly what changes led to the loss of activity of neural networks: a sweeter diet or weight gain directly, notes a neurologist at the University of Michigan Randy Seeley, who was not involved in Stuber’s work.

Are they just not tasty?

Seeley does not rule out that food itself may have been an important factor in how the mice behaved. “You probably don’t know what rodent food tastes like,” says the scientist. “I’ve tried it, it’s just disgusting. It’s dry, salty, tasteless.”

Photo author, Science Photo Library

The fatty food that mice are fed tastes like sugar cookie dough, explains the expert, who, however, admits that neural activity could also be an important factor.

Scientists, hoping to help obese people, have been studying the mechanisms that regulate feelings of fullness and hunger for many years.

According to the popular science website The Conversation, the human brain operates a “food reward” system that encourages us to consume calorie-rich foods.

This reward can override satiety signals in the brain, making it much more difficult for us to cope with the temptation to continue feasting.

Since the consumption of delicious food brings us great pleasure, the anticipation of such pleasant sensations becomes the most important factor in determining our diet.

Is evolution to blame?

At the same time, scientists have shown that people can find it especially difficult to give up fast food rich in fat and sugar, such as chocolate, ice cream, chips or cookies.

Photo author, Getty Images


The mechanisms of food consumption were formed in humans in the primitive era.

In some people, the brain centers that stimulate food consumption work much more actively than others. According to The Conversation, scientists have demonstrated, for example, that among those who are particularly fond of chocolate, the sight and smell of sweets causes a more active response in the regions of the brain responsible for “food reward”.

Such mechanisms force us to form strong relationships between a place and a certain type of food: when we get to the sea, we start buying fish and seafood, and in the cinema we eat popcorn.

The food reward system helps us find the right food and encourages consumption. Its appearance is associated with the distant past of humanity, in which people were hunter-gatherers.

To survive, they needed to find high-calorie food as quickly as possible – and eat as much as possible.

In those conditions, overeating helped people to survive the times when there was no food at all. However, in modern society, the evolutionary desire for fatty and sugary foods leads to the risk of obesity.

Moreover, it is much cheaper to produce not very healthy, but nutritious foods than dietary ones.

Is soy harmful to women and can it cause cancer

  • Jessica Brown
  • BBC Future

Photo Credit, Getty Images

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Noticeably higher consumption of soy among Asian women are associated with a 30% lower risk of breast cancer in them

Soy contains isoflavone compounds, which are natural estrogens. Therefore, there are concerns that it may cause breast cancer as well as prostate cancer in men. Is it really so?

While soy has been eaten in Asian cuisine for thousands of years, it became known in the West only 60 years ago.

Today on supermarket shelves you can find many products from it: soy milk, hamburgers and other soy-based meat substitutes. Not to mention the traditional soy dishes like tofu, tempeh, miso and soy sauce.

Research shows that a soy-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease. Because it contains protein, unsaturated fatty acids, B vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium and zinc, soy is becoming an increasingly popular meat substitute in the West.

However, despite the fact that over the past decade more and more people consider soybeans to be useful products, there are fears that it may disrupt the hormonal system.

These concerns are based on the uniquely high content of isoflavones in soy, natural compounds that have estrogenic properties. It is a female sex hormone that binds to estrogen receptors in the body and can stimulate the growth of certain types of breast cancer.

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Soy products are often used as a substitute for red meat, which may explain why soy is associated with better health in research. the body, but the answer to whether they can contribute to the development of cancer is ambiguous.

Research results show that soy is more likely to protect the body from cancer, but it is not known exactly what exactly.

Thus, the high level of soy consumption among women in Asian countries is associated with the fact that their risk of breast cancer is 30% lower compared to American women who eat much less soy.

In breast cancer patients, one study found that soy consumption reduced deaths by 21%.

Benefits were most noticeable in women with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer.

This is the more aggressive type when the tumor lacks estrogen and progesterone receptors and therefore does not respond to hormonal therapy.

Ambiguity of the question

However, it is very problematic to determine the benefits of soybeans, if there really are any.

Soy is often used instead of red meat by those who follow a healthy diet.

If soy does indeed reduce the risk of breast cancer, it may be because isoflavones increase apoptosis, a genetically programmed mechanism that prompts cells with damaged DNA to self-destruct if they cannot repair it.

When this does not happen, damaged cells can turn into cancer.

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Soy foods can prevent cancer because they enhance the mechanism that causes damaged cells to self-destruct

But where did the concern about foods like soy milk come from?

One experiment in immunosuppressed mice found that isoflavones can lead to the growth of cancer cells.

One of the reasons for these different results may be the fact that, when ingested, isoflavones act either as estrogen or as its opposite.

That is, they can bind to alpha-estrogen receptors in the body that stimulate tumor growth, or beta receptor, which, on the contrary, reduces the growth of cancer cells and promotes apoptosis.

The effect of soy on breast cancer risk may depend on when we start eating it.

In most studies in Asia, women have been eating soy since early childhood and have been exposed to this product for the first time in the womb.Whereas Western women started eating soy products at a later age.

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The beneficial properties of soy for the body will be more noticeable if a person begins to eat it in early childhood.

The influence of age on the beneficial properties of soy has been confirmed by experiments on animals.

Several studies have also found that consumption of soy reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Although this may also be due not to soy itself, but to the fact that a high-intake diet tends to contain less junk food.

“Soy foods are commonly eaten in place of other foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and low-fat dairy,” says Joanne Pinkerton, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia.

“Soy foods are usually very low in saturated fat,” she adds.

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Consumption of soy can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

There are also suspicions that soy consumption causes prostate cancer.However, last year’s review of studies found that regular consumption of soy foods, on the contrary, reduced the risk of this disease by 30%.

Why this is so is still unknown, because soy does not affect testosterone levels in men. Again, this could be due to the fact that the soy diet is generally healthier.

“Despite the conflicting research results we have received over the years, we are convinced that soy prevents prostate cancer,” says study author Catherine Applegate of the University of Illinois.

The benefits of soy also depend on how they are processed before consumption. Isoflavones are higher in processed soybeans, such as edamame beans, than in soy milk or other processed soybeans.

So, edamame contains about 18 mg of isoflavones per 100 g, while soy milk only from 0.7 to 11 mg.

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Processed soybeans, such as edamame beans, contain more isoflavones than, for example, soy milk

“The only thing we can say for sure is that women can safely Eat soy foods in an amount appropriate for an Asian diet, such as tofu, fermented soy foods, and soy milk.Although the more soy is processed, the lower the level of isoflavones in it, “says Professor Bruce Trock of Johns Hopkins University.

Over the past decades, there has been a lot of research on the effects of soy on the body. Not a single study has been thorough.

And how In general, in food research, the results often show correlation rather than causation.

However, the findings consistently show that soy is beneficial for health.Even if the reason is only that it replaces unhealthy food.

Want to share your life stories with us? Write about yourself to [email protected] and our journalists will contact you.

Mrs Dalloway

The story of a day by the fictional heroine Clarissa Dalloway, a socialite in post-war England.

Clarissa Dalloway – socialite, about fifty. She is preparing to receive guests, or rather representatives of the high society of England.Miss Dalloway goes to the flower shop. On the way, she meets an old acquaintance – Hugh Whitbread. Because of this meeting, Clarissa recalls her youth when Peter Walsh was in love with her. At that time, Peter acted aggressively towards Hugh. Clarissa didn’t marry Peter, but she never forgot him. In her thoughts, she gets to her destination – a flower shop.

At this time, a sound thundered in the street, which looked like a shot. It turned out to be the car of one of the dignitaries, which crashed into the sidewalk.There is also Septimus Warren-Smith, who is walking with his wife Lucretia. Septimus is a man of thirty, constantly pale, constantly frightened, anxious. Septimus has seizures and sometimes hallucinations. He told his wife that he was ready to commit suicide. Septim’s wife is angry at Dr. Dome, who persistently assures her that her husband is perfectly healthy. Lucrezia is lonely, because she is from Italy, where her family remained.

Clarissa returns with a bouquet of flowers. She accidentally finds a note near the phone, which says that Lady Brutne called them, who wanted to know if Richard Dalloway, Clarissa’s husband, would have breakfast with her.At the same time, Lady Brutne did not honor Clarissa with an invitation. Miss Dalloway, tired of her own sad thoughts, goes to her bedroom, where she again recalls her youth. Suddenly, Peter Walsh comes to visit her. She thinks that if she married him, she might be happy. Miss Dalloway invites Peter to a reception.

Peter, who hasn’t been to London for a long time, is surprised how much and how quickly he has changed. He meets Septimus, who is on his way to be examined by Dr. Bradshaw.Septimus’s confusion was caused at the end of the war when his friend Evans was killed. The doctor says Septimus is sick.

Lady Brutne informs Richard and Hugh that Peter has returned to London. Richard decides to buy something cute for his wife. He remembers his youth.

Elizabeth, daughter of Clarissa, is studying with the teacher who became her friend, Miss Kilman. Clarissa Dalloway despises this woman. Kilman eats at Elizabeth’s expense, complains to her about his fate.

Doctor Dome comes to Septimus.Septimus is afraid of him, but Dome stubbornly rushes into the house. Terrified, Septimus is thrown out, crashing to his death.

Guests arrive at the reception. Clarissa realizes that the receptions no longer cause her such stormy joy. Dr. Dome tells everyone about Smith’s suicide. Clarissa’s old friend Sally arrives. Peter is patiently waiting for Clarissa to pay attention to him. He is confused.

The plot is essentially kept to a minimum. The author changes the standard form of the narrative, talks about the people of his time, presenting their life as a single movement.

90,000 Dry air in the apartment: symptoms, consequences, what to do


As soon as you realize that the air in your house is too dry, you immediately think – you need a humidifier. But if you nevertheless decided to read about this decision, and ended up on our article, you are in luck. Because we will tell you why the humidifier will not help, but, on the contrary, will aggravate the microclimate, and we will offer a solution in return – read to the end.

As soon as cold weather sets in, the humidity level naturally drops.This is because cold air cannot contain as much moisture as warm air can, and this is how dry air is formed in the apartment. Plus, the operation of radiators and heating systems greatly affects the dehumidification process. It is believed that the ideal indoor humidity in winter should hover around 45 percent. But dry winter air can lead to a significant decrease in humidity – down to 15% or even lower. This imbalance in humidity raises a number of potential problems that can affect your health, your home, and especially your comfort.

Air humidifier – all pros and cons

The humidifier seems to be the only device that helps against dryness. But it also brings a lot of problems, as a result, the following sequence of your actions arises:

1. When this “miracle device” starts spraying moisture, the air becomes oversaturated with water, and the humidity level can rise to 95-100%, and this will lead to such consequences as fungus and excessive condensation on surfaces / mirrors / windows.It will also cause great harm to your health – we cannot breathe water alone! Therefore, you will have to buy a hygrostat in order to find out the current balance of moisture in the air, and turn off the device when it becomes too humid.

2. During the operation of the humidifier, the dust familiar to us does not settle on the surfaces, but begins to rise upward. Thus, dust floats in the air, you actively breathe it, sneeze, irritate the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract, and in general it is unpleasant. We surveyed 50 humidifier owners and unfortunately they all talked about this issue even when we didn’t ask about it.

3. So, you begin to feel the ubiquitous dust, and are looking for a solution to the second problem – how to make the dust settle. The only sensible solution to this problem is to use an air ionizer. It releases silver ions, which pressurize the dust, and it settles back on the surface. It would seem that the problem has been solved – the air is humid (very even), and the dust does not harm you. But then you realize that the ionizer emits an unpleasant odor that spreads throughout the house, and which cannot be muffled with all sorts of aerosols with a lotus scent.

4. Here we come to the stage when there is waterlogged air in your house, microbes develop abundantly due to an excess of water, an unpleasant odor of dampness begins to emanate from condensation on the surfaces, and the ionizer “stinks” the whole house – it is simply unrealistic to be there. You start looking for a solution to all this on the Internet, and you realize that ventilation is the only option. And since regular ventilation is a bad option (see below), only mechanical ventilation will help you, which, with the help of powerful air exchange, will eliminate condensation, excess moisture will go away with the hood, and unpleasant odors will be replaced with fresh air.
5. As a result, you get one more device – a means for ventilation. And since the household recuperator will be the most effective and cheapest, most likely you will buy it. And then you understand that it would be easier to immediately install a household recuperator, because it was he who would bring a sufficient amount of humidity from the street into your house, but at the same time without pollution, without cold, and without odors (read about this solution below). Here is such a vicious circle – the miser pays twice.

Next, we will tell you in detail about what consequences can be obtained from dry air, as well as how to solve this problem in different ways.

By the way, perhaps you are faced with another problem – not with humidity, but with the fact that it is stuffy in your apartment, then you need to come here.

Dry air in an apartment – why is it dangerous?

Problem # 1: Disease Prevention

The upper part of your respiratory system, including your throat and nose, is built of moist membranes. These membranes serve to trap dirt, dust, viruses and bacteria before they reach your lungs. When these membranes lose too much moisture due to dry air, their ability to retain particles is compromised.

The right moisture level helps these membranes do their job by preventing harmful particles from entering the sensitive areas of your lungs. Therefore, if you take steps to keep the correct amount of moisture in the air, you can actually reduce your risk of illness.

Problem # 2: The effect of dry air on the nose

For some people, dry air can cause another uncomfortable and unpleasant symptom: itching, irritation of the nasal cavity.Since breathing is mostly carried out through the nose, low humidity levels can lead to dryness and irritation of the mucous membranes. Not only is it painful, but it can also cause nosebleeds. But properly humidified air keeps the organ of smell healthy with every breath.

Problem # 3: Low moisture damages your skin

Our skin is more than half water. Therefore, when the air lacks moisture, the skin begins to dry out. This can cause itching, flaking, and a dangerous tightness around the joints.It can also cause painful chapped skin and chapped lips. Excessive dry air can also cause flare-ups of existing skin problems, including eczema and acne.

Problem # 4: Static electricity

When the air is properly humidified, static electricity naturally dissipates in your home. However, when the air is too dry, this static electricity starts to build up. This exposure to electricity can cause blankets and clothing to stick together.More noticeably, it can cause painful electric shock every time you touch a doorknob or other metal surface.

Problem # 5: Damage to your home

Air, when there is not enough water in it, tries to absorb moisture wherever it can find it. This means that in cold winter weather, dry air can begin to draw moisture from your home. When the house is dry afterwards, you will notice that the floors, especially parquet floors, will start to squeak more.

Dry air can also pull moisture from wood into the frame of your home, causing walls and doorframes to move. This can make it difficult to open and close doors, and cause gaps between ceilings and walls. These gaps can also form in windows that are made entirely of wood. This way, cold winter air can easily get in, thus increasing the cost of your heating bill.

Problem # 6: Damage to furniture

As the air in a home becomes drier, it can begin to damage not only the structure of the house, but also what is in it.Wooden furniture can begin to buckle and even crack. Musical instruments may lose their shape and sound correctly (you may not be able to tune them properly). Even paper objects like books and illustrations can become fragile, perverted, and wrinkled.

Problem # 7: Harm to the child

Babies have sensitive skin and even more sensitive respiratory systems. In winter, when the heaters are on and the internal humidity drops to 10-20%, the child may develop a cough.It can also irritate baby’s skin, nose and lungs. This cold, dry air also helps viruses grow. In addition, children cannot take medicines intended for adults – their bodies are too fragile for strong medicines.

Normal humidity level

We learned about the problems that dryness brings in the house. Now let’s clarify the norms: the humidity level should be 40-60 percent, while the ideal becomes 45% RH.For children, it is important to observe higher humidity levels – most often they are suitable for a level of 70-80%. Therefore, if you have a child, you will have to play according to the rules of his body, and, as regrettable as it may sound, forget about your norms. But, if a child lives in your house, and the humidity level is below even your norm, you will go to the doctors for a long time and look for the problem of his cough, dry skin and headache, not even knowing that everything is in the air. In this case, you’d better get a hygrostat that will constantly show you the moisture level.

Ways to eliminate dryness

If you are haunted by dry air in your apartment, and you are wondering what to do? Want to avoid the distress, inconvenience, and injury of dry air? We suggest that you examine several options for humidifying the whole house with the correct methods.

Free methods

1. Place a pot of water on the battery
Any casserole will do. Do you need pans for cooking? We bet you have an old baking pan or cast iron pot that you can use.Put it on a battery and fill it with water once every few days. This is a simple and effective method of increasing the relative humidity of your home as you don’t need to buy anything.

2. Dry clothes on the battery
Drying freshly washed pants or a wet sweater on a radiator can also help humidify the air inside. Don’t have clothes to wash yet? Then, use the following advice:

3. Wet towel technique
Place an old, damp hand towel in the air vent that is in the room.The circulating, warm air that passes through the ventilation shaft into the room will evaporate the warm water from the towel and fill the oxygen with moisture.

4. Boil water
Fast, easy and efficient. Just boil water in a large container when you feel the air in your home is dry. Place the lid on the container when the water heats up and open it after the water reaches the boiling point. Be sure to place the hot pot in a safe place to avoid scalding.
5. Spray curtains
Spray the curtains with a spray bottle. Open windows to provide warm air through the curtain filters. The water will evaporate, which will increase the humidity in your home. But in winter, this method is not recommended, as the water can turn into small ice crystals, which will destroy the fabric of the curtain.

All these traditional methods are good, but they will make you run around with basins all winter, or they will help you inadequately – only for a certain period, but the dry air in the apartment and the symptoms will remain.

6. Ventilation

You can also try – airing. Why this method works: by letting in fresh air, natural humidity from the street comes in with it in an optimal ratio. But! This method is bad because with fresh air we get bacteria, dirt from the road, dust, allergens and other elements. Again, we remove one problem, but we get a friend.

Inexpensive methods

7. Humidifier

If you nevertheless decided to take a risk and get by in an easy way by purchasing a humidifier, we will also write about its use.

These units work best with closed doors and windows. Place the appliance away from walls and furniture to ensure proper circulation. Except for models with a top vent. But this method also has its drawbacks – the constant injection of steam creates the appearance of condensation, which leads to the appearance of fungus.

Also, in such humidifiers, a hygrostat is most often not installed, which would measure the level of humidity in the room, so with such a device you can quickly overdo it, and then the main problem for you will be humid air: you will also have to buy an air dehumidifier.

Solution cost: from 500 to 2000 UAH and more + ionizer + hygrostat + ventilation and odor elimination.

8. Domestic recuperator
The most optimal and correct method is to establish mechanical ventilation by installing a household recuperator. This method allows fresh air to enter, and at the same time:

  • You can adjust the amount of fresh air, that is, set the required amount of fresh air you need;
  • Dirt and bacteria from the street will be filtered when it enters the household recuperator, so the air will be almost 100% clean;
  • Along with the inflow, moisture will enter, and in an optimal ratio, because forecasters have determined that in Ukraine the average humidity on the street ranges from 65 to 70% – this is enough to restore the normal level of moisture in the house;
  • Due to the built-in heat recovery, cold air will be heated up to the temperature set by you before entering the room.That is, if we compare it with ordinary ventilation, when a terrible cold comes along with oxygen in winter, household recuperators will drive warm air into the room, and the temperature in the room will not change at all after such ventilation.

This method is quite cheap and effective, plus the air is not heated using expensive fuel – find out why you will not spend a penny on heating the supply air.

Solution cost:

More correct but expensive method

9. Air handling unit

We would like to advise you

It is best with dry air, and indeed with a problematic microclimate in the house, an air handling unit will help to cope – this is also a type of mechanical ventilation, but more powerful. If, in the case of a household recuperator, you have to install one for each room, then one supply and exhaust system is bought for the entire apartment / house, even if it is of a large area. The unit is hidden in a technical room, for example in a bathroom, and delivers air from the street throughout the apartment to each room through a duct network, while another, the same network, removes polluted air through the same unit.The heat from the extract air heats up the supply air, but the contaminated mass does not mix with the fresh air stream. In general, this is a complete ventilation system, after the installation of which, you will forget forever about the stale air in the house or about the need to open windows.

But the main life hack is that you can connect a humidifier with a more complex structure to it, and connect a hygrostat to it separately. How everything will work – the installation will start fresh air from the street, then clean it from pollution, then heat it to the desired temperature, and take it to a humidifier, where the air will receive the required amount of moisture, and then spread throughout the house.The hygrostat will allow you not only not to overdo it with humidification, but also to control the required parameters even during the humidification process, and the air handling unit will not allow dust to rise, due to the fact that its flows will go down from the ceiling and spread slowly, and not like with a conventional humidifier – chaotic with massive streams of water. We have already implemented such a solution for an apartment, and described in detail all the technical points – check out the case.

Solution cost:


Cold weather makes the winter rather unpleasant anyway.Don’t let dry air add another point to your discomfort. Manage humidification and enjoy clean, warm air all year round. Why ventilate, cooling the room, if you can solve all problems with one device – here you will have humidification, and an inflow of fresh air, and purification from pollution, and exhaust air extraction, and removal of unpleasant odors, and even heating the air, for which you you will not pay.

Taking care of our home, we take care of ourselves!

Other interesting articles on this topic:

Do you often notice that at certain moments it becomes stuffy in your apartment, and as if you have nothing to breathe ?! This is especially felt in the autumn-winter period, when windows and doors are tightly closed.